Man of the match: Adam Ryder
BATLEY BULLDOGS’ seven-year hold on Boxing Day bragging rights came to an end, but Dewsbury could only claim a draw after ex-Ram Dale Morton’s penalty ensured the sides finished even in their first pre-season test (14-14).
Dewsbury came from 12-0 behind to lead 14-12 with three tries either side of half-time thanks to Andy Gabriel, Will Oakes and Adam Ryder, after Alistair Leak and Michael Ward had crossed for tries in an opening half-hour that had seen Batley as the better side in their first game under the charge of Craig Lingard.
Morton’s penalty, along with the inability of Lee Greenwood’s side to set themselves for a proper drop-goal attempt in the final couple of minutes, meant that both teams finished with what could be considered a fair draw in the Roy Powell memorial game.
Dewsbury were the scratchier of the two sides in the first half and needed Paul Sykes to produce a crunching tackle to put Keenen Tomlinson to the deck as the Batley man attempted to break the deadlock.
The opening score came from a Rams attack as a Sykes pass was swallowed up by Tomlinson, who galloped into the opposition half before being hauled down by Michael Knowles. The Bulldogs continued forward, eventually finishing with hooker Leak sneaking under Luke Nelmes and Tommy Brierley to stretch for the line.
Morton added the conversion but then knocked on from the restart, although he made up for that error by stripping Liam Finn of possession. On the back of a penalty, the visitors charged forward again and Ward took a short pass from Danny Yates to crash over from close range, with Morton again converting for a 12-0 advantage.
Dewsbury found time at the end of the first half to mount their own attack, and a nice move to the right involving Finn and Brierley saw Gabriel take the ball and acrobatically dive into the corner. Sykes did well to convert from the touchline, halving the deficit to 12-6 at the break.
It was perhaps an undeserving consolation at the end of the first half, but the Rams were well worth the two tries in the opening nine minutes of the second half which edged them in front.
For the first, Batley conceded a penalty in the process of halting Ryder’s charge for the line, and from it an over-the-top pass from Sykes perfectly found Oakes, back on the field following an early knock, to run in for his first try at the club.
Four minutes later, Connor Scott did well to wrestle the ball back into Dewsbury’s possession, and it was moved on for Ryder to dummy his way around a defender and cross the line. Sykes couldn’t convert either score but his side led for the first time at 14-12.
The ball was dropped by the Rams on the restart to allow the first of several Batley attacks. George Senior was held up on the last and later grounded the ball only for the referee to rule that a Rams player had done so first, while James Brown was also held over the line.
Only with three minutes to go did the Bulldogs get another chance to attack and when the hosts were penalised for not releasing, they opted to take the two points on offer as Morton kicked from in front of the posts to level the scores.
Cue a mad final couple of minutes as Dewsbury hunted for the winning drop goal. Knowles had an attempt from 20m blocked but the ball went behind for a drop out, and after keeping the ball alive determinedly on the hooter Jon Magrin was finally tackled to bring an entertaining contest to a close.